Seasonal Employment

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What is seasonal employment?

Seasonal employment is a temporary form of employment where an organization or company hires workers on a short-term basis. An organization can hire people temporarily to meet growing labor needs, especially during seasons of peak business demand. Seasonal employment is common in businesses that experience peak periods of busyness, such as the retail industry. 

Similarly, businesses that open during set times in the year, such as ski resorts, will also contract employees on a seasonal agreement. Although this type of employment is technically part-time, some companies offer full-time positions to meet their needs, but these jobs do not provide year-round employment.

What is considered seasonal employment?

Seasonal employment is temporary and is designed to address an organization's short-term needs. Seasonal jobs recur around the same time every year, especially during peak business months. Depending on the type of business, seasonal employees normally work for six months or less.

HR practitioners should consider the seasons when labor needs are higher and prepare accordingly. This would also include tracking when your permanent employees may be away on vacation or any non-work-related emergencies.

When does seasonal employment end?

Seasonal jobs end after the peak periods of the different companies. An HR leader who keeps track of the labor availability and heightened seasons of activity for their company will know better how to allocate the seasonal employees' short-term contracts.

Different industries hire seasonal employees throughout the year. These include the retail, tourism and hospitality, agriculture, fishing, and delivery industries.

In the retail industries, for example, businesses can post vacancies in the fall season and hire and train employees in time for the winter holiday rush. Tourism and hospitality businesses also employ workers seasonally, dictated by the time of the year. Hotels, restaurants, and resorts that receive tourists mainly hire during the winter and holidays.

Seasonal Employment: Benefits for Organizations

Benefits of seasonal employment for organizations

Companies can benefit from seasonal employment in several ways, including:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Seasonal employment is generally paid hourly or on contract. That can be more cost-effective than hiring full-time employees who require benefits and a year-round salary
  • Scale workforce up or down: The organization has the flexibility to scale the workforce to accommodate the business during peak periods
  • Assessment of potential employees: ​​​​Employing seasonal workers can provide organizations with a trial period to evaluate an employee's performance before deciding to offer them a permanent position.
  • Bring in specialized skills: Seasonal employment enables ton organization to bring in specific skills for a project or busy period. 

HR tip

HR professionals should set clear and specific goals for seasonal employees. Those who successfully meet or exceed these goals are good candidates for permanent employment.

Additionally, employing seasonal workers presents a reduced risk for employers because contracts are short-term, and there is no obligation to hire them permanently.

At the same time, Seasonal employees provide the required labor coverage during times of increased customer demand for businesses. For example, during the holiday seasons, retail stores experience a surge in demand for goods and hire additional workers to help with packaging and restocking.

Seasonal employment examples

Large companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and the United States Postal Service (USPS) employ seasonal workers. Amazon hires workers for different services, including stocking shelves, flying planes, and technicians. In 2022, Amazon said its average hourly pay was $19 in states across the US.

Walmart also hires associates and technicians to fill in slots during the peak holiday seasons. Positions include warehouse associate positions, power equipment operators who pick and ship large items, and customer care associates who support customers via email, phone, and texts.

Temporary postal delivery jobs also peak during the holiday seasons. The USPS hires seasonal workers to drive, sort, and load mail with an agreed-upon hourly pay.

Seasonal employment laws HRs should know

Seasonal employment regulations are covered under given laws in different countries. In the US, seasonal employment is covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which addresses overtime pay, youth employment opportunities, record keeping, and minimum wage, among other factors.

On minimum wage, employers are obliged to pay their employees the federal minimum wage or their state or local minimum wage. Seasonal workers who work more than 40 hours a week are entitled to overtime pay, one and a half times their regular pay

In the UK, seasonal workers shouldn't work for more than 48 hours, including overtime, unless they've chosen to do so. Moreover, seasonal workers should be paid the national minimum wage, national living wage, or agriculture minimum wage. In Australia, seasonal workers are entitled to the same rights and are covered by similar work health and safety laws. All 21 years and above workers must not be paid less than the country's minimum wage.

HR best practices for seasonal employment

Seasonal employment offers an excellent opportunity for companies to manage staffing, cost-effectiveness, and provide essential labor while minimizing risks.

Some of the recommended HR practices on seasonal employment include:

  • Engage seasonal employees: HR professionals need to keep in touch with the workers and make them feel welcomed throughout their stay to maintain productivity
  • Set clear goals: Set clear goals and expectations to ensure seasonal workers understand what they should aim for. State their job description and requirements clearly stated in the contract.
  • Provide training and orientation: Proper employee training and job orientation are important, especially in industries like retail and hospitality. Managers and other employees should also be trained on how to relate with seasonal employees.

HR tip

To integrate seasonal employees and boost their dedication to the company, organize team bonding sessions that include them.

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